Things very wise and/or experienced VCs/founders have told me which I'm sure they wouldn't publish, which I have valued very much:
* If you don't look like a stereotypical founder, you won't follow the stereotypical path; that's not a problem, it's just a difference. Pursue your dream from first principles.
* The difference between flirting and friendly is perception, not purpose - don't worry about seeming aloof and don't take it the wrong way when pursued (to a point).
* Never come out until/unless absolutely necessary. Especially not to gay men.
* Absolutely don't talk about your young children with investors, especially if the investor has children of their own.
* The other side of not being perceived as a highly technical co-founder (which I am) because of my gender/appearance is that I'm more easily seen as a people person or product owner (which I'm very much not). It's ok to take advantage of that.
* I don't look enough like a founder to get angel/seed; I should make my money as a co-founder then self-fund through series-A, which tends to work out better regardless.
* Never, ever speak at a conference/on a panel about diversity. Your online identity defines your future opportunities, and the diversity racket is awfully small.
(Many more too specific or nuanced to include here.)
What is the consequence of coming out to gay men? What counts as absolutely necessary?
How much of a role does flirting play in the business dealings of founders?
Out gay people are both more likely to out someone and more likely to have complicated feelings about others preferring not to be outed.
> What counts as absolutely necessary?
It's always better to come out than be outed.
> How much of a role does flirting play in the business dealings of founders?
Ideally none. Unfortunately when you're a woman in her 20's courting men in their 30's as investors, the rituals often overlap with romantic overture. (suggesting coffee, discussing deals/valuation over dinner, feigning interest in their opinion or soliciting advice, grooming, etc.)
The point is not that it's ok to flirt, the point is that it's ok (and not your fault) to be perceived as flirting. Too many female entrepreneurs avoid approaching male VCs because they're afraid of being misinterpreted.
Your broad point is a good one, and I'll note it is not completely asymmetric by gender either. Anyone with functional communication skills should be able to resolve this potential for misinterpretation fairly early and painlessly.
And if you're a partner at a VC firm with toddlers, it's quite likely you did things in that order.
It's enormously exacerbated for female founders with young children. And God forbid you be pregnant or planning to have more.
A good parent spends more time with their children than anything else.
And I've dropped the ball on work stuff when I had more important life stuff to handle.
And I'd skip using some contracting firm (or anyone/thing else) if I thought they'd take off for greener pastures as soon as they found a better client.
Combine those things and nobody reasonable will enter into a critical deal with a new/upcoming parent where that person is in the critical path. It's not PC to say this, but you'd be a fool to discount it. And If that person doesn't prioritize their children you probably don't want to deal with them simply because of that.
fwiw, the same logic applies to anyone with any non-business focus that outweighs their business focus. From cancer to marathon running. This is your life too and blowing your chances on misguided charity doesn't let you take the time to raise your children or nurture your sick spouse.
This isn't necessarily true. However, sleep deprivation (rather than actual hours spent with the kids) is a big problem.
"I don't have time to fight with people who are trying to misunderstand me."
* A small subset of the startup ecosystem is implicitly/explicitly biased.
* A larger subset of the startup ecosystem recognizes that fact, and won't invest in diverse founders (all things being equal) because of the additional hurdles we have to clear.
* Everyone else knows that some people are cautious about funding diversity because some people are biased.
That first tiny percentage has the devil's own leverage.
1. A small subset of the startup ecosystem wants to fund diverse founders, and is willing to compromise on startup quality to do so.
2. A larger subset of the startup ecosystem recognizes that fact, and won't invest in diverse founders (all things being equal) because they are worse due to group #1 funding worse companies.
3. Everyone else knows about #1 and #2, and so are cautious about funding diversity.
I'm curious if you have considered this way of looking at the world, and know of any data that would let me conclude it was less accurate than the version you outlined above.
Though since both hypotheses support the same conclusion I'm not sure it matters which is correct.
The reasoning that there is a small group who would refuse to fund nonwhites/women, and that has an knock-on effect on everybody else suggests:
-that there is a 'culture of racism/mysogyny'
-that we need more diversity training
-that we need to move the overton window to exclude those people with the unacceptable views (and we should do so via diversity training)
-that we need to spend money to fund the people to make the above happen.
OTOH, the reasoning that many startups lead by nonwhites and/or women got seed-funding via affirmative action despite not being strong enough to get funded on a level playground, leading to lower average quality, leading to warier investors and difficulty attracting further funding suggests:
- that there is no 'culture of racism/mysogyny', just people being rational with their money.
- that we need to wind back the irrational AA money that is distorting the market and wasting its investors' money
- that 'diversity training' is not the answer and possibly counterproductive.
-that the overton window is either fine where it is, or could be moved a bit the other way.
It is unfortunate that there is so much attached here, and I'm fairly sure most of those things are not the intended interpretations by the posters, but you can see how this is a very baggage laiden discussion. Partially it's because it echoes many, many similar discussions elsewhere, and many of those previous discussions made many people very angry at each other.
So in the end investors who resist diversity miss out on some runaway successes.
> Google's motto — "Don't be evil" — is in part a branding play, but it's also characteristic of a kind of business that's successful enough to take ethics seriously without jeopardizing its own existence.
> Monopolists can afford to think about things other than making money; non-monopolists can't. In perfect competition, a business is so focused on today's margins that it can't possibly plan for a long-term future. Only one thing can allow a business to transcend the daily brute struggle for survival: monopoly profits.
The McKinsey study (at least to my reading) establishes correlation, not causation. It could well be the other way around, ie: basically everyone agrees that diversity is an ethically good thing... so perhaps profitable companies are more diverse because they can afford to be, rather than being more profitable because they're diverse.
This seems falsifiable btw... we could brainstorm perks that companies offer when they're doing well, and see how closely the correlation there matches McKinsey's observed 35% overperformance.
 From the summary at http://www.mckinsey.com/business-functions/organization/our-... - The pdf is behind a paywall, sadly.
P.S. The McKinsey article is behind a wall, not paywall, just a registered account with mckinsey.com
Perhaps because the diversity racket is in some way related to the group of people causing Jessica to avoid sharing thoughts online? If you can silence all the people not in your group, your group's size will appear a lot larger than it really is.
Visibility equals neither impact nor income.
Example of a gig being a paid appearance on TV as a talking head proffering some expertise - you have to make enough noise for people to remember you and the need for your services. Compare that to a career of someone like a nurse or airline pilot - they sure are welcome to go to nursing and airline conferences to remind people about importance of nursing and air travel as well as discuss the current issues facing both fields (sometimes even on TV), but it's not a requirement to keep collecting a paycheck.
She gripped the lectern and looked at the floor for a few seconds sadly.
She looked up.
"What happened here, guys? You're all so smart. This was a real let-down. No, the Republic is not a sacred text. No, we're not here to worship it. But there's also such a thing as employing the critical spirit in the wrong way. We're here to understand this book, to engage with its ideas seriously, not to tear it apart without thought to feel superior."
"Again, this is not an object of worship. But this book has been preserved for 2500 years by human beings, most of whom had to copy each page by hand. A long chain of brilliant people from across generations worked to put this paperback in your hand. They did this in part because they thought it was worth the effort of preserving it for you. If, after a minute or two of thought, we find a glaring flaw that makes Plato looks like a blithering idiot, it would be wise to examine our critique in a spirit of humility. Without humility and charity, it's impossible to learn anything."
"After we've understood, then we can critique."
This idea is equally valuable outside the context of interpreting philosophical texts.
Everything she said is unfashionable, not only in academia but in public life. Political entertainers earn their keep by deliberately distorting their opponents' arguments with easy mockery. A lot of social media reward mindless criticism.
But the most productive, insightful online communities have some element of exclusion and some punishments (karma, banning, etc.) for repeated violations of the principle of charity.
Public life, I'll give you.
There is an argument to be made that internet discussions have always been at risk, and I think it's indeed a known pathology. However, subjectively, it seems to me this has escalated in a massive way within the last two years - to the point that important issues have effectively been taken off the discussion table because the participant pool is entirely made up of people fighting content-free meme wars.
In my opinion, the only way to combat this is to violate the rules of these meme wars and start talking about content again. But I wouldn't recommend it for high profile personalities whose job entails getting along with as many people as possible, because the fears of backlash are absolutely justified even if you might garner more respect this way in the long term. Worse yet, once a discussion has been taken over by mindless reactions like this, it becomes very difficult to form your own opinion rationally because it involves separating what the memes want of you from whatever the facts and your internal thoughts say.
As a rule of thumb: if both parties are angry at you, you're on the right track.
Personally I think the current state of things is either unsustainable, meaning the group identity thing is going to burn itself out over time, or it's a new low-energy state as far as human thought process goes which means it's going to be permanent. Either way, at least some influential people need to fight this, even if it means you'll be perceived as having rough edges.
No; this is an excuse to pat yourself on the back for being contrary. Don't validate your beliefs by how much they make others angry, any more than you validate them by how much they make others happy.
> the group identity thing
Group identity and culture wars are not new (and are certainly not going away). It's plausible to me that the internet is making this worse - a premise of your post - but I'm not yet convinced. It's possible they're merely coincident. What concrete reasons are there to believe the internet is a primary cause of today's increasingly vitriolic culture wars, rather than merely a new venue in which they are being pursued?
> No; this is an excuse to pat yourself on the back for being contrary. Don't validate your beliefs by how much they make others angry
That was absolutely not what I intended to say with this admittedly tongue-in-cheek quip. There is a kernel of (subjective) truth in there though: if you find yourself agreeing with one side of a meme war 100% on everything, it's most likely time to rethink some assumptions. Conversely, if you're not agreeing wholesale, you just have a target on your back, that's a given. So I could have worded that better, it doesn't have anything to do with being contrarian for the sake of causing offense.
> Group identity and culture wars are not new (and are certainly not going away).
I thought I addressed that. Again, I probably worded it too obtusely.
Further, as a strategy it is exploitable: say you have opinion X and I want you at X+1. I can manipulate you by loudly proclaiming X+2.
tl;dr: there are no easy heuristics here. Treat the entire communication environment as hostile and manipulative, form your opinions with great care, and double check all your sources.
Additionally, I said that, having already formed my opinion X, if I get that response, I can predict certain things. This is very different from your 'exploit' which requires the reverse process.
I'm afraid you've provided cogent and valid criticisms of a completely different set of statements than I actually made.
If someone, anyone, goes looking for the facts, there is only one destination in which they will end up. The facts aren't hard to find. They are all in boring science textbooks. But nobody reads those anymore.
The current culture war is waged by those who profit off ignorance against those who crusade for truth. You may think this is a black and white view of it, but it isn't. One side wishes to obliterate facts, the other wishes to incinerate pretty lies at the expense of hurt feelings.
So yes, there are a great many positions that are factually incorrect. All of them, to be exact, except the factually correct ones.
The problem of course is that facts can be inconvenient to those who seek power.
Thank you for clarifying.
> There is a kernel of (subjective) truth in there though: if you find yourself agreeing with one side of a meme war 100% on everything, it's most likely time to rethink some assumptions.
Yes. But "you're probably wrong if you agree with anyone completely" and "you're probably right if you disagree with most people" are very different.
> > Group identity and culture wars are not new (and are certainly not going away).
> I thought I addressed that.
I think here it's me who has been unclear. That was just an introductory remark. The substance of that part of my comment was to wonder whether the internet is really what's been exacerbating the current culture wars and factionalism, or if it's just coincidental. I still don't feel confident either way on that question.
That's the same fallacy as saying "The truth is somewhere in between". If everybody is angry at you, maybe you just said something universally stupid. Or maybe you were right. You can't make this a rule.
There's a lot to disagree with there, probably mostly around two sided-ness though there's mostly a lack of tech in meme wars, they haven't figured out how to make smaller groups and dynamically manage them effectively. I know that nuance as a sign of maturity is also directly under attack and that there's no apriori way to justify it.
And the more general: "If idiots are happy with you, you're likely an idiot too - or just acting like one."
All "identities" are crude prejudice. They're a pair of glasses we put on to try to perceive things a certain way. This is an artifact of "Motivated Reasoning." Anticipating someone's vote based on their melanin is harmful and self-defeating in the long run. As you say, we should discuss content, or "issues." Instead of negating everything e.g. YouKnowWho does, we need to debate each bill on its own merit.
Or worse even, they use a Facebook discussion plugin, so whatever you say is attached to your Facebook account.
In this Brown Political review article , the author states
> Furthermore, calling-out non-influential figures and handing them the spotlight in the process gives other individuals incentive to make controversial statements of their own. In other words, if someone is desperate enough for attention, even if it’s negative, they might see that saying or doing something blatantly hateful can garner the publicity they crave. It’s the same concept the has boosted Trump and Carson campaigns (to different levels of effectiveness) this election cycle; that is, using controversy and outrage to get their names out there and increase their visibility in the media and public eye.
There is a good study of a case of a (now) popular misogynistic and homophobic YouTube user that actually tripled his viewership as a result of protests on social media about him holding a meeting in their town.
I personally do not "fear" callout culture, but I also realize that the things I put out there on the internet have consequences that I would rather avoid. And like the article states, I am in no position of power.
Of course, let's also not forget that there is a culture that has made a point of shouting down contrarian or critical viewpoints when a discussion could be initiated.
Worried that perhaps some vaccinations are unnecessary? You're a stupid anti-vaxxer.
Critical of environmental science methodology? You're a climate change denier (and probably in the pocket of Big Oil).
Not a fan of how Black Lives Matter conducts some of their protests, or perhaps you think that using ID to combat potential voter fraud is a valid idea? You're a racist.
Not a supporter of a specific presidential candidate? Well, it's probably because you're a misogynist...and there's a good chance you're rather deplorable as well.
That's a good part of why people have stayed silent: they're demonized before a conversation can begin. It's not necessarily because they didn't want to have a conversation.
If you're being shouted down, regardless of why one party thinks you should be shouted down, your worldview and opinion of the opposite party will be strongly affected.
I don't think its a coincidence that Donald Trump, a name half of America recognized before the election, won the election while Ben Carson, an unknown before the election, didn't make it past the primaries and received less than 3% of republican vote.
And if I'm right, this completely contradicts your article's thesis: Trump got the attention because he was already famous and known, not what he was saying. The general election also supports this.
Well, ole Jim Bob got to drinkin' and Sally done got a black eye again
Now honey you know better than to going around and snoopin' in other people's business
That was the culture up until lately, and even if it was present earlier, it certainly didn't have the consequences (good or bad) as it does now.
If Jessica were to venture a 'twistable' opinion, sure there will be a huge uproar, because of her association with YC. If this is published under a fake persona,Jess McFake, someone who can be identified only by a body of writing, then it is hard to bring these prejudices, and even if it is "twisted" who cares?
I do this to some extent by having multiple online personas, none of which have my real name associated with this, one for each 'community' I participate in,(not true for HN, fwiw) and I find this very useful and liberating, and I'm nobody. I'd be surprised if 'celebrities' don't do something like this already.
Of course if you are as rich as (and so untouchable) as, say, Peter Thiel, you can just go ahead and express what you want wherever you want and don't give a damn if you are misinterpreted and/or out of synch with particular orthodoxies, but for the rest of us, this might work as a temporary fix.
Startup L. Jackson is a great example: https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2016-03-17/unmasking...
And of course XKCD: https://xkcd.com/635/
One the one hand, any opinionated information will upset some portion of the public, the internet just makes it more visible to you. From that perspective, maybe the solution is to exert better self-control and stay off twitter, not google yourself, and care less about imaginary internet karma points.
Her ask for compassion is coming from a sincere place. I think however the real long term answer is to examine how rules of the forum incentivize certain types discussion (twitter=outrage, youtube=insults, facebook=food pictures & generic upbeat life-observations, reddit=jokes, news.yc=thougtful comments, buzzfeed/tech-crunch/whatever=unreadable linkbait).
Another way to look at this, is that these famous people get something from public validation. In a sense, it's a trade of inside information for public validation. If she really just wanted to get the word out there, she could do what the rest of us do, post on a throwaway account, losing the karma points, losing the automatic boost by posting as a famous person, and see if her ideas are packaged well enough to rise to the top.
The thing that's slightly offputting to me is that I get a sense that a lot of these public figures actually are not as right as they seem to think. For example, I'd bet 5 grand that if I could talk to PG for a day about the things he's blogged about, I could change his mind on at least one of them. Yet at the same time I think he was quite troubled when he posted his 1%-money piece and people were outraged.
There's really a lot to this discussion.
So no, a lot of people decide it's not worth it, to be everybody's projection target. And contrary to one of her points, I don't think it's any great tragedy. It's only the stupid internet, remember! What unites people in real friendship is long-term shared tangible interest, of a type that is all but gone from public life in America except maybe in the smallest, supposedly most "backward" farming towns.
Two solutions I can think of:
(a) private, close-knit communities, i.e. not HN.
(b) new norms developing to judge people's action in a specific domain based on actions in that specific domain, i.e. Jessica Livingston qua startup investor, not qua x-ist or proponent of y-ology or whatever. Of course, this goes against the very idea of identity politics, where the whole point seems to be to couple every person with their (supposed) political views, i.e. humans qua politicians.
One thing you realize with that second frame is that most people, Y.T. included in this thread, are not acting in capacity of anything. One might call us "qua randoms", spouting opinion without skin in the game (assuming it isn't qua friend, etc).
* publish anonymously, putting the ideas in the discourse, albeit without them getting the signal boost of one's reputation.
* publish them in a format, such as a book, where you can explain them in such detail that you can ignore people misinterpretations, satisfied that you have explained everything to the best of your ability, and you don't have to worry about people's misinterpretations. This seems a lot of effort, and it's hardly certain one would succeed.
* It's unclear if the problem is that people will misinterpret across the universe of social and traditional media (which seems unsolvable) or simply within a particular forum in which the idea is shared. If it's merely within a particular forum, then one could have a private secretary (or sufficiently advanced AI, or grad student, or friend) cull through the comments for interesting responses, saving you the burden of looking at the rest.
* If, as is hypothesized, the successful are full of ideas that it would be a burden to share, presumably a credible third party could collect and publish these ideas. Politico, for example, had a panel of insiders from both parties who gave their impressions on the presidential campaign, with quotes not being attributed to any particular panelist.
*If misinterpretation comes from people "shooting from the hip" because posting first is rewarded, one partial mitigation might be putting replies in a lockbox and, say, displaying them after 8 hours, with the replies with certain characteristics (longer, more complicated sentence structure, less inflammatory words) being displayed more prominently. At that point more interactive commenter to commenter exchanges could begin.
Especially when I support someone monetarily, they are able to spend that money on things that I find abhorrent, and use that money to buy influence, even if I'm supporting them because of a product or piece of art. I think I'd be ethically liable if I knowingly gave a significant chunk of money to somebody who I knew would later use it to influence people towards harming others.
Of course you are free to boycott them if you so wish, but boy do you need to boycott a lot of people if you apply this strictly. There are other systems in place to take care of this, which may or may not require additional work (such as justice system not being as strict with rich people), but that's a separate question.
No, I can't save the world on my own, and nor can anyone. I've done a good many things which have directly and indirectly resulted in harm towards others, because I need to in order to survive in today's society. But that's not the point - the point is to build an ethical framework in which we can aim towards intentionally enabling less harm, even if we can't ensure no harm.
In more realistic examples than the one outlined I believe it's almost always the case that:
(a) people are doing a bad job qua something, such as journalists not having journalistic standards, etc, or
(b) people judging someone outside of their "known" domain almost always over-react and misunderstand (see witch hunts for people that should be dealt properly by, say, the justice system). I.e. the side effects are generally more harmful, at least if you impose it on others.
(I should follow my own rule of never replying to my own thread outside of simple questions. It always bites me. Especially ironic how all the points in OP and my original comment applies to this thread.)
Sounds like the value proposition of white power music, or some rap.
I wonder if there's a tech solution to this.
If you look at the most popular forms of social media and what is considered popular, you see that low effort content is what draws the most views and reactions. Low effort content being images, 140 character quips, so on and so forth. The most popular social media sites are either geared specifically around these forms of communication (instagram, twitter, imgur, etc), or are dominated by such forms of content (reddit). The reasons why these forms of content are so popular are well understood so I won't waste time on it.
The issue that arises when these forms of low effort content dominate is that they start changing the way people think and act. The mind will adapt to the space that it lives in. In other words, if you talk in 140 characters frequently, you are going to start thinking in 140 characters. That being said, this is not to say social media has somehow created a problem that didn't exist before. People are rationalizing animals not rational animals. I'm saying that social media is making the problem worse and creating a dominant meta where low effort content succeeds and reinforces its own success by creating patterns of thought through the designs they are built around. The fact that Twitter has become a dominant form of political discourse should speak volumes about the mess things are right now.
My feeling on this is that the current landscape is akin to us discovering alcohol for the first time: we haven't adapted the right cultural norms to deal with this sort of technology yet. The current situation can be thought of as us trying to figure out the rules of the road. I think the best path forward is to not speak out against groups, but against behaviors that are muddying the water in all groups right now.
On reacting quickly: in my experience, if you're among the first few to either make a 'root comment' to some post (on a medium like reddit or HN) you're much more likely to receive a large number of votes, positive or negative. And if you have even a slight preference for social validation, you'll play to the crowd by posting an agreeable meme or some variation. And the same goes for those who can quickly post the popular counter-meme as a second-level comment if all the first-level slots are taken. And bam, same old meme-based conversation plays out for the millionth time.
On participating: If you nest any further down than second-level comments, you tend to receive no reaction. No votes and often no replies, so it feels like you're talking to no-one (and you've just wasted a bunch of effort). And it's not that you care about chasing imaginary internet points; you care about receiving feedback that your comment has at least been read by a large audience. I suspect people who don't care about the latter are more likely to write in their diary. Consequently, the discussion can often lack depth.
So: rewards for 'quick reactors' + no incentive to add depth == shallow, pandering to the crowd comments.
I think it's something to do with the time-sensitive nature of these forms of discussion. Perhaps one solution would be to somehow mess with the interval between hitting the 'reply' button and when that reply actually appears.
It's also amazing what you can say if you don't care who's attributed. Anonymity or pseudonymity can be of great value here.
For someone of Livingston's stature, writing under a pseudonym may not seem as attractive an option. When sharing anything really valuable, via a pseudonym, there's no opportunity to leverage existing audiences, or build reputational equity for your 'true name'. And for the already-prominent, if a pseudonym is later pierced the blowback can be larger. So why not spend your time and words elsewhere, either on safe topics, or only sharing 'dangerous' thoughts privately?
Thus Livingston mentions, in her footnotes, increased sharing in controlled environments with trusted associates – as on Facebook. But most people may find pseudonymity the best strategy for collecting the benefits of freer, more honest speech.
I even suspect that a "right to create uncorrelated secondary identities" may be a crucial 21st-century freedom, worthy of encoding in law and custom.
Essentially, HN is particularly bad at this because a lot of comments on here sound like that programmer who thinks that they're right and so naive that they believe anything they disagree with to be lies. There is no proof that the people commenting have any merit and their reputation is not on the line with their comment.
I'm not really sure that a large, easily accessible community with minimal moderation could ever have quality discussion. Those conditions produce commenters with little reason to be responsible with their words.
My interpretation of this silence is an evaluation of opportunity cost. I choose to be silent even though I might have something to say because I value the time saved avoiding a pissing match by forgoing any benefit of speaking my mind.
I might be totally missing the mark on her intended meaning. Regardless of my interpretation, it is pretty disheartening that advancements in various areas can be stalled due to people reacting (read wanting to be offended) rather than listening, processing and engaging.
It's not? Are you using some overly-strict definition of 'silenced' here?
I've seen this sentiment expressed often by prominent maintainers of open source projects, where they feel that their effort often leads to too much stress and negativity. Why bother with that, if you can just as well find a regular job that doesn't impact your personal life in a negative way? At some point, the passion of conviction gives way to the banality of everyday comfort.
I don't understand why you made that post after, in another thread, saying jmduke shouldn't have interpreted "silenced" that way.
Silence as a noun and silence as a verb are very different things. I'm sitting silent right now, but it's not because I've been bound and gagged.
It seems to me that the former is the less useful mode of analysis for long-term problem solving.
> One reason I have hope for a solution is that I do find I can speak more openly on Facebook than elsewhere, so maybe that’s a clue about what direction social media 2.0 might take.
Who better to share, "You are not alone."
For example: racism is bad. A good person should try not to be racist (to say the least). But maybe, as a part of recognizing our own human limitations and pervasive reach of racist thinking, we should accept that even otherwise admirable people sometimes fall prey to it, and temper our reactions accordingly. Perhaps we've uncritically allowed our hard work towards greater awareness of these sorts of moral mistakes to result in a constant ratcheting-up of the opprobrium that they invite.
Here, the problem with complaining, in the abstract, about the fear of having your words twisted, is that it assumes that you, the twistee, are right, and the "twisters" have it all wrong. But if this happens to you frequently enough that you feel compelled to write this sort of blog post, I can't help but suspect that things may be the other way around.
Reframing this sort of concern about the growing social costs of routine moral failings helps with this because it recognizes the possibility that the author is not really a smarter person, with greater moral insight, than those that criticize her.
This post suggests they could also have a better perception of the possible risks that even effective communication could entail than I do.
The internet is well beyond "peak controversy." On the internet you will find the thesis and antithesis of every statement. People need to laugh it off. So what if an email gets leaked that says something inflammatory? Every person has at least one view that would severely offend at least one other person. Penalizing people for things arising online quickly leads to things like 'thought police'.
Please share the truth, it's good medicine.
Maybe you benefitted from this discussion ;)
There's a few ways to go about this, and some are beautiful.
One idea would be to create an entire network of fake professional personas, build social media presences for them, and eventually have them say something carefully crafted to both be perfectly defensible yet enough to draw the ire of the internet outrage machine. Then, have them be fake-fired much to the angry mob's satisfaction.
After this goes on for a while, conduct some data analysis, permanently naming and shaming everyone stupid enough to righteously attack and ruin the life of a fictitious persona.
The chilling effect is then reversed: engaging in vicious mob mentality against complete strangers might just earn them a higher ranking on the dumbass list.
It's a tool that cuts all ways. There's nothing in a 'positive' social movement - however defined - that makes it less vulnerable to this sort of baiting than a 'negative' one, because it's an exploit on a close-to-universal personality flaw.
Governments are already adept at sabotaging movements if they so desire.
I agree with you though, it's probably not the best idea.
At least in my version, the victims are complete fiction. The end result would amount to merely punking half of the internet. Fortunately, it also lacked all the terrible things I can't mention due to spoilers. :)
I've this pet theory which surmises that when you try to effect change, the efficiency of the effort is inversely proportional to any resulting negativity. Thus, anything that garners any negativity at all is probably a bad idea.
Realistically, counteracting mob mentality will come down to boring things like rethinking social media architecture to account for human nature.
In a village, there are no secrets. Same online, basically. Anything digital can quickly spread everywhere, far beyond its intended context.
Pre-networking, information dissipated via voice and to an extent via print and the "telephone game" demonstrated how loss formed a natural barrier. Encryption is a temporary obstacle. It contains the secrets until a breach forms which instantly exposes them to the world. And not only is information flowing outward, but reactions are flowing back, see SWATing, doxxing, "leaks", and fake news.
I was initialized impressed, personally at the internet's ability to share information about human intimate relationships at a large scale. This helped mainstream-ize sexual practices, and I personally believe, catalyzed 4th-wave feminism. Lately I'm, personally, impressed at the internet's ability to forcibly interface people of different ages and classes. It sounds good on paper, like "diversity," right? And I think it will turn out well. But in the meantime, we've failed to respect the order created when human interactions and relationships were based in meatspace and incidently more uniform in their ages. Now we have 60-year-olds and 20-year-olds exchanging advice on how to live when they have totally different needs. There are some gains to be had, but also, much confusion to organize. Like Jessica Livingstone, I could say way more about this IRL, but can't share online. In a nutshell, the sudden explosion in age-differences and relationship information is also breaking down certain illusions of power, which were, strictly speaking, false, yet they held society together in a more stable way. Let's hope we have the gift of clarity and the strength to execute it so we don't re-experience feudalism.
I know it doesn't solve the main problem, but at least you can share your thought without too much negative consequence.
This is obviously a genuine loss for hard-working people trying to gain insights from their role models in order to make a positive impact in their lives.
But at the same time, one can't help but feel a bit of a twisted sense of justice, towards those causing the problems in the first place. From what I've observed, these people typically place themselves in some sort of "victim" class, and actively look for new ways to get offended and twist words that wouldn't have caused anyone any bother, say, 25 years ago. These people are going to miss out big, not just because they are stifling insights from those who could guide them, but because of their limiting mindsets.
This is not to say that there aren't fights worth picking, because sometimes there are. Cases of blatant discrimination do exist in fields that should not have it. And it can be really important to expose these negative patterns. But this is often best done with a tool that we're starting to lose, namely investigative journalism.
But oh boy has the pendulum swung far from that. I've seen interviews with Jessica before, she seems like one of the kindest, most insightful people in the startup community. I've bought and read her book, Founders at Work (highly recommended). If someone like her is worried about sharing insights, at the potential downside of appearing malicious or offensive or what have you... then we are not in a good place.
> I’m horrified at the prospect of the most insightful people in their fields thinking, "That's something I should comment on. Nah, what's the point? Too much downside."
> That's what happens now, and we don't even know how much, because how do you measure the sound of silence?
You can start measuring it on college. There's small things like legendary comedians not willing to perform on campus anymore. And bigger things like professors self-censoring and watering down their curriculums, lest they upset some small-but-vocal group of students. Heck, do we really need Shakespeare anymore? Maybe we can do away with that (e.g. see U of Pennsylvania).
Maybe we'll have a less motivated, more self-centered workforce that are both harder to hire from, and harder to retain. Maybe we'll have less inspiration for the next generation of entrepreneurs, as Jessica points out. At least the internet has documented plenty of good stuff so far.
This is a cultural critique, and you're welcome to disagree. I can't prove that slowed GDP growth over the last decade is related to narcissism, excessive self-esteem, victimhood mentalities, higher divorce, you name it [insert modern social ailment here]. But I do know that societies and cultures that are growing economically typically have less of these social afflictions (maybe they're just too busy).
But if I run with some of the correlations I see, I do see a certain irony: the aggressive progressivism espoused by Silicon Valley may be coming back to bite it. People are getting scared of sharing what they think, because they never push back and maintain standards on what is or isn't a legitimate criticism. I think it's completely analogous to being a shitty parent who doesn't set boundaries on their children - except this is more of a generational thing.
One last thought: seeing the above unfold over the last few years, coupled with the slowing economy (don't let the left's phony numbers fool you) is exactly how I predicted that Trump would have a great shot at becoming the President back in 2015. Seeing his Twitter actually solidified that prediction for me because culturally he "fights back" at the children. The children that so many of us know are ruining things for the rest of us. He may be a big child himself, but that's besides the point.
And now we have this Brave New World to look forward to :)
1. The author equivocates online critique and criticism with being 'silenced'.
2. The author thinks it's too risky to share "insights about Silicon Valley" online, but does not think it's too risky to advocate for immunity from critique for the already powerful.
I understand that the message of this post is to have the listener consider how online discourse tends to coalesce into witch hunts, which is totally valid.
The thing is, when I share ideas or controversial takes with my few "trusted friends", I don't expect them to engage me on the surface level without critique or criticism. I expect them to call me out on my shit (and presumably Paul and Jessica have the same expectation). The people I trust the most are the people who can critique me most fairly and most accurately, in good faith.
By reducing all critique of online 'powerful individuals' as attempts to target and silence them, the author I think misses the bigger issue: it's not the act of critiquing that's the problem with online discourse, it's the shape and manner in which it's conducted.
Ignorance and obstinance are symptoms.
Is this satire?
I don't know if you're doing it deliberately, but this is what you're doing.
> The author equivocates online critique and criticism with being 'silenced'.
She uses the word "silenced" exactly once. There is no indication that, for example, she considers "people aren't saying anything because they don't like the tone of their online criticism" to be the same problem as, for example, "people aren't saying anything because they're scared of getting arrested".
If you think she's comparing two things that aren't alike, you need to be more explicit.
> does not think it's too risky to advocate for immunity from critique for the already powerful
She is not in any way doing this. "How do we solve this problem? I don't know, but I hope there is a solution." That is not the same as "clearly, we need to solve this problem by making people immune from criticism".
> reducing all critique of online 'powerful individuals' as attempts to target and silence them
She describes one type of criticism. She does not say that all criticism takes this form.
Others have addressed the substance of your remarks. Here, I just want to mention as a fellow commenter that equivocates means "to use equivocal language especially with intent to deceive; to avoid committing oneself in what one says." It does not mean to state that one thing is equivalent or leads to another.
My reaction after reading:Duh.
Perhaps it's living for decades but stating my opinion I do less and less, especially in person. I think its a product of listening better, getting wiser and not needing to be validated or heard. Only a small handful (one hand) of people I care hear things I have to say. I am totally different than when I was 20's & 30's
It's not that "true things arent being said" it's that I am smarter to simply not say them.
Worse thing is she would say "no"
But I would not leave her office and tell anyone about what she said. That would be breaking her trust. If she wanted to tell others she would.
Thanks for the "who is the author" explains its "front pageness"
This is not the sound of silence; this is echo.
The point of discussion isn't to create some sort of internet that might one day be studied and determined to contain useful information, the point of discussion is that those who participate can learn and improve. Sometimes this necessitates saying things that have already been said. That's not a problem.
As for the notion that sometimes discussing things with people in significantly different circumstances to yourself might not be the highest value discussion you could have, I agree. However it's still fun, interesting, etc. Better use of time than Netflix, that's for sure.
It feels like a weak point. Maybe the best insights are written by professional writers, for example. In such a case there's no loss from industrial self-censorship.
On the other hand, it is true that successful startup founders usually leveraged some deep insight to grow fast and profit. But those insights have been "tapped out", so to speak, therefore are not really useful anymore. They were valuable for the founders but the value is non-transferable.
In my case, I'm writing mostly to become a better writer/communicator, so it doesn't particularly matter if I convey useful/valuable information or if it gets discussed; the aim is to do it clearly in a short amount of time. It's a different calculation for a person with children and a demanding job.